4-H Club extends their hands to larger service at 2019 Relay for Life

By: Kendra Saxton 

According to statistics from the Canadian Cancer Society “Nearly 1 in 2 Canadians are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.” Chances are, each and every Canadian has been touched by cancer in some way, whether that means living with the disease yourself or knowing friends or family who have been affected. For most people, the fact that half of Canadians may be faced with the life-altering news that they or someone they love has cancer is devastating. For the Oxford Community 4-H Club, these numbers gave them the motivation to show that we are all bigger than cancer.

On Friday, June 14, 2019, the Oxford Community 4-H Club participated in the 2019 Relay for Life event in Woodstock, Ontario. Relay for Life is a special fundraising initiative started by the Canadian Cancer Society and has been changing the future of cancer for more than 20 years. During the 6-12 hour event, participants take turns walking around a track in support of those living with cancer and to remember those who have lost their lives. At least one person from each team is asked to be on the track at all times and walk in support of those currently living with cancer, representing that nobody is alone in their journey. While off the track, participants have the chance to enjoy other activities and entertainment and even design a luminary to honour the loved ones they have lost.

This is the 13th year this Community 4-H Club has taken part in the Woodstock Relay for Life, the first event dating back to 2007. In 2006, many of the Oxford 4-H Exchange members became very good friends, resulting in Shonna Ward, a member of the Club making the decision to participate in this initiative shortly after. One of the members of the Oxford 4-H Exchange, Katrina Hart, had called Ward and asked her if she would consider being a chaperone for the Relay for Life team. Hart’s mother, who had been the chaperone for the exchange, promised she would participate if Ward would. That was all the persuasion Ward needed to join forces with Hart’s mother, partnering as chaperones for the Community 4-H Club team. Many of the team members were from across Oxford County and this resulted in the creation of the team name “Community 4-H Club.” Several siblings from the original team still participate in Relay for Life along with all the new members.

The Community 4-H Club team is truly special because all of its members have been affected by cancer and are committed to making a difference and continuing to be good community citizens.

The amount of support and dedication the Community 4-H Club gave to the cause this year was exceptional. In this year’s relay, eleven members aged 10-21 and three volunteers participated in their event from 6pm to 12am, all with the purpose of raising money for cancer research that will help find a cure and supporting those affected by cancer. The team committed to buying 100 luminaries to light and line the track with as well as walking 180km in total as a team. The Community 4-H Club accomplished just that and made the outstanding achievement of raising a team total of $14,200 for the 2019 Relay for Life, crushing their target goal of $11,000! Over the past seven years, the team has raised over $10,000 annually through hard work and vast fundraising efforts. Over 13 years of participating in The Relay for Life, the Community 4-H Club has raised a grand total of $129,000!

The team would not have been able to raise these funds if it weren’t for their tireless work within their community. In addition to Relay for Life, the team raises funds year-round and has been fundraising since July 2018. Ward believes that the key learning members take away from their club is how working with local organizations can create real change towards a larger goal.

The team has assisted in roadside cleanups with Hickson Lions Club and Tavistock Men’s Club, and helped Oxford Junior Farmers with a cleanup at Roth Park. They also collect electronic scrap, used pop cans and other recyclable materials and send it to local recycling programs to be cashed in. Additional work included helping at the Oxford 4-H pancake fundraiser and selling pop and water, and assisting with set up at the Embro Truck & Tractor Pull. Instead of just asking for pledges, the members work hard to receive a donation, they find the community work proves to be equally as rewarding.

While the 2019 event was an incredible success, the fight does not stop here. Today, we must all continue to celebrate cancer survivors, support those who live with cancer, and also honour the legacy of our loved ones, friends and family, who we have lost. We will continue to relay off the track, stand together and support each other so that no one feels alone in the face of cancer. Today and every day, we will work together as a community and change the future of cancer, through growing awareness, raising money for cancer research, and ultimately finding a cure. The Community 4-H Club yet again proves that the bond of communities can be an unstoppable and powerful force.

The Ambassador Beat: Michaella Snyder

Stepping out of your comfort zone vs. anxiety. How Future Leaders In Action Camp helped me with both.

The deadline for Future Leaders In Action (FLIA) was coming up fast and I had pretty much made up my mind that I wasn’t going to sign up. I had been struggling with anxiety about going to any camp after I had a stressful experience at a non-4-H related camp two years prior. I remember having a panic attack the night before a non-4-H camp for no reason. I had just woken up and remembered that in the morning that I was going to camp, and I spiraled. So, I had decided that it was not worth the stress and it was too far out of my comfort zone.

That’s when one of my good friends started nagging me to sign up. She was persistent and guaranteed that it was worthwhile and that I would have a great time and I am so glad I decided to go to FLIA.

If you have never had the opportunity to attend a 4-H camp it is an experience like no other. The programs are designed to create a safe, encouraging environment where its participants can flourish. I remember standing outside with the other campers after we all got off the bus and looking around at the unfamiliar faces. Most of us were quiet and shy and no one was talking, but that didn’t last long. Our wonderful facilitators started that weekend off with so much energy and excitement that it was impossible not to follow along. I have never been to another camp where the facilitators are having just as much fun, if not more fun than the participants. We were kept so busy it was impossible to do anything other then live in the moment which helped me out a great deal. We were encouraged to step out of our comfort zones and to trust and support one another. Camp was a safe space away from the rest of the world and I can say with confidence that FLIA changed my life.

We gained leadership skills, but we also learned how to be good listeners. We challenged each other and lifted each other up when someone was feeling down. We climbed 20-foot towers and hoisted each other into the air during high ropes. We worked our way out of escape rooms and talked our facilitators into letting us dance for a few extra hours on the last night. By the end of that camp all 40 participants knew each other by name and I still talk to many of them today. Tears were shed as we climbed the bus to go home from camp and said good bye to one another.

After FLIA I was hooked. In the last three years I have had the privilege of attending Provincial 4-H  Leadership Camp (that runs alternating years with FLIA), Career Mania at the University of Guelph, The 4-H Global Networking Summit in Ottawa (that had participants from over 30 Countries!), 4-H Canada Citizenship Congress in Ottawa. All of these experiences have led me to becoming a 4-H Ambassador this year.

Doing something out of your comfort zone is never easy. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the “what ifs”. What if I fail? What if I don’t fit in? I can say with confidence that 4-H is a wonderful place to leave those “what if’s” behind. So, I challenge you to do something that forces you out of your comfort zone. If not camp, maybe you join a new club, try to get elected for a position in your club that you haven’t held before, talk to a new member and introduce yourself or volunteer to speak first when giving presentations or giving reasons. Whatever you do if you are stepping out of your comfort zone you have succeeded. If you learned something new or gained a new skill, there is no such thing as failing. The more that you put into 4-H, the more you will get out and there are so many opportunities to experience what 4-H has to offer Locally, Provincially, Nationally and Globally.

So, sign up for camp and drag a friend along! If you have already been to a 4-H camp before, encourage a friend to apply! Sometimes people just need a gentle push to get them going. Lastly, be sure not to judge the circumference of your comfort zone to other people’s comfort zones.

“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there. “

~ John Assaraf

 

The 4-H Ontario Ambassador Program is made possible by the generous support of FS.

The Ambassador Beat: Allison French

The Beginning of a Whirlwind Chapter in my 4-H Story…

            My name is Allison French and today I am going to take you on my journey to becoming a 2019 4-H Ontario Ambassador. It all started with the Peel 4-H Association in 2011 where I have completed over 75 projects to date, ranging from seed mosaic to garden tractor pulling, as well as dairy and clowning club. I am going to go through four quotes that I feel best tell the story of why I chose to become a 4-H Ontario Ambassador, and show how excited I am for this journey to begin.

“You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.” -Dr. Seuss

I have learned to always be open to new opportunities even if they are outside of your comfort zone. If you had of asked me three years ago if I was going to be an Ambassador for 4-H Ontario I would have said, “That’s funny.” However, after seeing my two sisters complete terms through this amazing program, I decided why not. Julie was an Ambassador in 2016 and Nicole was an Ambassador in 2017 and 2018. Some would say I had to carry on the “French Tradition”. Although I was hesitant at first, I am happy that I opened my eyes to this incredible opportunity that will lead to an amazing year.

 

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” -Dr. Seuss

In February the newly crowned 2019 team of 4-H Ontario Ambassadors had their training weekend full of impromptu speaking, icebreakers, ideas for captivating your audience and of course lots of fun. After our weekend full of laughs I am ready to take on the role of being an Ambassador of the 4-H program. The 4-H program has shaped who I am today as a leader and I am eager to give back to the program that has given me so much. I am steering myself to be an advocate for 4-H and to make a positive impact on the youth in our province.

“You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So get on your way!” -Dr. Seuss

            I am excited for this upcoming year as an Ambassador as I have seen first hand the impact it has had on both of my sisters’ lives. 4-H has so many opportunities that will push you out of your comfort zone and challenge you to become a stronger leader. Being an Ambassador is going to challenge me to become a stronger public speaker, leader and 4-H member.

“Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky” -Dr. Seuss

I am extremely lucky for the opportunity to become a 4-H Ontario Ambassador and can’t wait to see what this year has in store.

The 4-H Ontario Ambassador Program would not be possible without the generous support of FS.